Q: I am British, live here in NYC, and hear a lot of people hereabouts use the phrase “off of,” e.g., “I took it off of the table,” etc. This seems not only redundant, but, when I was growing up, it was considered really, really bad English. Is this just a British thing? It really grates on my nerves! Be thrilled if you could answer this for me since nobody knows what the hell my problem is!
A: You’re right. “Off of” is no way to talk. It IS really, really bad English. I added a bit about this to the second edition of my book Woe Is I because it seemed so ubiquitous an infraction. So, all you miscreants out there, don’t use “of” if you don’t need it: “I took it off the table.”